It’s Not Easy, Eating Green

, , , , , , | Learning | November 4, 2019

When I was in high school, I went through a phase of being a vegetarian. I was also on the school’s free lunch program. At one point during my vegetarian phase, the school tried to open a salad bar, which was very helpful for me; on most days, neither lunch option was vegetarian, and bringing paid-for food from home didn’t make sense when I got food from the school for free.

Unfortunately, most of my classmates weren’t fans, and halfway through the school year, the salad bar was shut down due to running at too much of a loss. Not wanting to burden my parents by having them pack me lunches with fresh veggies and/or tofu “meats”, neither of which were cheap, I tried to make do with what I could still access. So for a while, my main entree was whatever that day’s main side was, usually french fries; that’s not the healthiest option, I know, but at the time, I was too stubborn to just stop being vegetarian because it would have been more practical.

One day, I saw a tray with a bowl of salad sitting on top of the counter from further in the line. When I got to the counter, the lady handed it to me, at which point I saw that it was how I usually made my salads from the salad bar. Turns out, the ladies decided to just start ordering the ingredients necessary to make sure I wasn’t relying on carbs most days. Looking back, I’m sure there was some bureaucracy they had to jump through to be able to order these, unless it was out of their own pockets, which would still be impressive considering, again, fresh veggies aren’t cheap.

I eventually gave up being vegetarian anyway, and made sure to inform them when I did so they knew to stop ordering the necessary ingredients — though I added that I would happily finish what they already had in stock so it wouldn’t be wasted.

Among the horror stories of how poorer kids are treated with regards to school lunches nowadays, it warms my heart to remember how my old lunch ladies looked out for a poor student who just wanted to try eating healthier for a while.

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